Selectmen endorse plan to widen Main Street

The section of Main Street west of Route 85 by the town common can get pretty tight, especially when cars are parked along the road. Selectmen last night unanimously endorsed a plan to widen that stretch of roadway and create as many as 14 dedicated parking spots.

The land to widen the road has to come from somewhere, and selectmen decided it should be taken from the town common on the north side of the street instead of from private property owners on the south side. That will require some significant changes to the common.

To make room for the road, the 150-year-old stone wall that lines the common will be moved north by two to six feet, and many of the trees on that side of the common will be cut down.

Some of the residents at last night’s meeting questioned why the town should be responsible for creating parking spots for the two businesses on Main Street — Morris Funeral Home and the Stone Health Center — in the first place.

“What we’re talking about is parking for two private businesses, and for that we’re going to sacrifice a public space. I think it’s wrong,” Historical Commission member Kate Mattison said.

Morris Funeral Home owner Steve Morris said it’s not just about parking for his business, it’s about parking for residents. “I’m not just asking for it as a business owner, I’m asking for it as a resident and a tax payer. I should be able to park in front of my own home.”

Selectman John Rooney said that widening the roadway is an issue of public safety.  “This is a safety issue for me,” he said. “We cannot frame it as an issue that just relates to widening the road for parking spaces.”

Police Chief Jane Moran said if parking wasn’t allowed on Main Street, cars would end up parking on narrow side streets like Middle Road and Latisquama Road.

Selectman Bill Boland said people have always been able to park on that stretch of Main Street. “Doc Stone has been parking in front of his house since 1947. Now for town to say, too bad Doc, now you can’t park there, I don’t think that’s right.”

Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf said when the stone wall is moved and the trees are taken down, the town should seek Community Preservation Act funds and work with the state to bury the utilities along the common. “If those lines are not buried then looking west across the common toward the library all you’ll see are roughly six to seven telephone polls,” she said.

The work on this section of Main Street is part of a larger plan to redesign the roadway from Sears Road to Park Street. Since the project will be funded by the state, the design approved by selectmen last night still needs to be accepted by MassHighway.

DPW Superintendent Karen Galligan said earlier this year that she hopes construction will begin in 2014.

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13 years ago

The cars that park on that strech of main street are actually parking on a sidewalk so technically there shouldnt be any parking there as of now. Its seems that PARKING is the safety hazard here. Every house on that stretch has a drive way, use it! No parking, No problem, NO SAFETY HAZARD…..come on people, this is common sense. Pave the road, keep the wall, make a nice side walk DONE.

Kathryn Marous
13 years ago

I agree with the quote from Kate Mattison, above. I feel I cannot safely park in front of my home, as I also live on an older, narrow street. I am not, however, advocating that my street be widened to accommodate me. I would be interested to hear more about John Rooney’s position that this is a safety issue. I only wish that money was being invested to make our downtown prettier and not uglier.

13 years ago

I am saddened and angered to realize that highway engineers, with apparently little interest in history and appearances, have such power to change the character and quality of the Town. I was (and remain able) ready to provide parking space in front of my house. The one thing that struck me down was the engineer’s demand for a shoulder on the North (Common) side of Main Street. That alone would demand moving the wall.

John Kendall
13 years ago
Reply to  Loki

Yes, there is a safety issue on Main Street. If you have a funeral and Fay School has something going on at the same time, you really can’t get through that area. And traffic has increased significantly in that area of the years. I just think it’s too bad that progress will be wiping out some history. Oh, and you can bet that if the state wasn’t funding this, it wouldn’t be happening because of cost.

dean dairy
13 years ago

“Morris Funeral Home owner Steve Morris said it’s not just about parking for his business…”

By the time this project is completed we’ll all be just dying to park there.

13 years ago
Reply to  dean dairy

Once this is finished let’s see what happens if someone is parked there for another purpose, say to use the library, when there is a funeral. Will parked cars be towed? How is this going to work?

No parking, no problem – safety or otherwise. This isn’t rocket science people. Can’t believe Mr. Rooney didn’t see through this.

13 years ago

We need to look at this as a revenue generating opportunity. The state pays for everything; we put up parking meters; the value of the business properties go up along with the taxes they pay. Business property without on street parking is worth much much less than property with.

Maybe someone will buy the properties to the east and put in a Starbucks or someplace to get breakfast or sandwiches, or a convenience store, or a Sonics (the line of cars on Rt 1 in Danvers backs on to the highway every night).

Perfect location for a drive through window for coffee in the am if you connect the properties facing rt 85 and rt 30. If the town still owns the affordable unit it bought on the corner we could sell it for a huge profit and reinvest the funds in more units with more bedrooms for more kids to fill up our schools. We need more progress in town. Open your minds people.

Al Hamilton
13 years ago

At the risk of throwing some gas on smoldering embers I would like to make a suggestion.

Should we consider moving the War Memorials and Artillery Piece to more suitable and accessible locations? I certainly don’t want to offend any veteran or the memory of any who have served but the current location was chosen when horse and wagons were the only traffic. I doubt that many people visit these memorials other than on Memorial Day or Veterans Day. A location that was still convenient to the 3 cemeteries so that proper Memorial Day observances can be held would be required but I think we could find a more prominent and proper location for these monuments.

John Kendall
13 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

No way Al……they need to stay where they are

13 years ago

We are going to allow parking in front of the Funeral Home and Stone’s House but from there to Mauro’s Market no parking is allowed on either side. Who decided that? Where is everyone going to park for activity’s on Main Street or the Community House?

For Safety reasons we are moving and cutting into the Town Common? Mr. Morris has bought the house next door on the easterly side of his funeral home, let him use that for parking. The Selectmen need to hear more input from the community before doing something drastic like messing with history for one guy and not allowing parking on Main Street from Rt 85 east to Downtown.

I would like to offer a suggestion to the Selectmen. Send out a questionnaire to all the house holds and ask the questions: 1. Do you think parking should be allowed on Main Street from Fay School to Rt 85? 2. Do you think parking should be allowed on Main Street from Rt 85 to Newton Street? 3. Do you think we need parking meters? and anything else they could think of. A project of this caliber should NOT be decided by a few people. I would hate to see construction begin and the NO PARKING signs go up stating NO PARKING EITHER SIDE.

13 years ago
Reply to  Questions

I appreciate your outrage and agree with everything you wrote. However, this has been going on for a long time. There have been countless meetings and presentations on the subject and the mechanism for being heard is to attend the meetings and voice your opinion. No one, I am afraid, is going to send a questionnaire to your house on this or any other subject. You actually have to make an effort if you want to be heard. That’s the way it works. That and voting for the “few people” who get to vote on these matters, the Plannng Board and the BOS.

Deb Moore
13 years ago

I’ve been very annoyed walking to the library with a stroller when I have to go into the street to get past cars parked on the sidewalk. I feel that parking for private businesses should be taken out of their private land. If I want to park in front of my house, I park fully on my property. As to the argument about so-and-so having done this for years, well, was there a previous parking space there at one time? Because if you know your property lacks something when you acquire it, you really can’t complain that the thing’s not there.

Steve Whynot, Commander - VFW3276
13 years ago

I cannot comprehend – that someone would actually consider the thought of moving the All Wars Memorial. The first instant thoughts that come to mind – I can’t put down here – because it wouldn’t be dignified.

How dare you???? Relocate so we can have the “proper observances”?? Did I mis-interpert something here???

I’ll hold off saying what is really going through my mind at this time.

Better yet – my phone number is in the book if anyone would like to discuss.

Al Hamilton
13 years ago


My intent was not to offend and if I did you have my most sincere apology. Nor was it to be disrespectful in any way. I have a son serving as we speak.

My only observation is that these monuments, because of their location are not, in my opinion, given the public prominence they deserve. I am sure the current locations were once chosen because of their public prominence and over time they have been left in an isolated island.

I will freely admit that this was one of my bad ideas (I have many). As an alternative, I would be in favor of removing the road that runs between the monuments and Town Hall and the Church and turning it into green space. I believe this would improve access to these monuments.

My only goal was to increase the public’s interactions with the monuments (not improve parking or traffic flow). I think it is important that people see these monuments, read the names and reflect for a moment on the cost of our freedom.

Once again you have my apology if I have offended you or others.

13 years ago

The BOS obviously see nothing wrong with carving up the Common to provide parking for two property owners who have never had “legal” parking to begin with. Maybe the whole Common should become parking and we can relocate our history to the transfer station. Lots of people go there every week.

This is ludicrous!

13 years ago

How did we get to this mess? As I understand it, there was, initially, a plan to revise drainage on Main Street and to repave it. From this (I confess to ignorance about the sequence) there came the matter of money and STATE aid, and, with that, intervention. So then came plans and hearings, and more of the same. Revision from “down town” to Sears Road, drastic revision. Consider these facets.

There has been no mention of the cost of carving the common and relocating the wall.
I know of no one who would like to see the wall moved.
Moving the wall would undo all the good work that has been to the War Memorial.
The BOS was prodded to make their decision because of 1: the need for parking, and 2: the STATE’s requirement that a shoulder be provided.
As for parking, I am ready, willing and able to accept a ban on parking in front of my home – and have so advised the BOS. I would develop a “pocket” on my lawn to accommodate two vehicles.
As for the shoulder, that is the price of State Aid – and intervention. And I question the need for it.
If the wall is relocated, the War Memorial would also have to be revised – at what cost?

These are random observations of a person who is not an engineer nor one who would
like State intervention. Could we consider pausing for reconsideration? Or should I just shut up, and “let the chips fall where they may”.

13 years ago
Reply to  Loki

Several residents applauded when the BOS voted to move the wall, so even though you don’ t know them, they are out there, AND more improtantly, they were at the meeting.

I think the cost of “carving up the common” and relocating the wall will be undertaken by the state. My fear is that once they start, who will hold them to their “estimate” of how far the wall will have to be moved?

Contary to “Or should I just shut up, and “let the chips fall where they may”. You should round up everyone you know and come to a BOS meeting to express your views.

Gino Tebaldi
13 years ago

I was thoroughly offended by Al Hamilton’s remarks about the ALL Wars Memorial. I was part of the Veterans Council when the Memorial was approved by the Town of Southboro.
It is a fitting tribute to all who served. As far as the horse and buggies that were around when the Memorial was erected, they were in Bob Sealy’s barn and at Foxboro’s Harness Track. The Memorial and the rest of the Town Common should remain as it is.
Gino Tebaldi, Past Commander of Bagley Fay American Legion Post 161.

Al Hamilton
13 years ago
Reply to  Gino Tebaldi


At the risk of further putting my foot in my mouth (I am already up to the knee), I was referring to the Civil War Memorial. Horse and wagon were the primary modes of transport when it was built.

To be fair I did not advocate moving any of the memorials, I asked if it was a topic that should be considered and discussed given the impending encroachment on the commons.

Also, please do not read into my words any criticism of the memorials. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think they are very well done and a testament to the care and respect of our community for the memories of those who have served. I have read the names of each person on both the Civil War and All Wars memorials.

My only point is that over time the site of these memorials has become more isolated as the town evolved. For example, the front entrance to town hall used to be located in the front, a few steps from the Civil War Memorial. Now it is located in the back and the front doors are only used for emergencies. Foot traffic in the front of Town Hall is very sparse.

I fear that the impending Rt 30 widening project may further isolate these memorials from the public.

I hope we can both agree that the public should be encouraged to visit these memorials on days other than Memorial Day and Veterans Day. My clumsily worded comments probably did not convey that thought. I would like to see us do something to encourage foot traffic in the area of the Memorials. My thought would be to remove portions of the road on the North side of the Commons and turn it into green space, perhaps with a sidewalk that connected the library with Town Hall that passed each Memorial. I would vote for CPA funding for this or some other similar plan.

You have my apologies if I have offended, that was never my intent.

13 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

Al, I believe you meant no offense, but here is an explanation of what I feel when I read a post like yours. The mere suggestion that an area like this – our town common, where we memorialize our history – should be compromised because of something as banal as traffic tells me that something is very wrong. Mountains should be moved to keep these areas where they are, prominent and intact, not allow them to be compromised today, carved away tomorrow and then, finally, relocated in the name of convenience or accessibility. This is our town center and we should do everything we can to make it pleasant, inviting, meaningful and accessible to all our residents. If an abutter cannot comprehend that their location next to such a sensitive area should impose certain limitations, like not being able to park in front of their property, then the BOS should make it clear to them, not cave to their demands. What’s more, these owners seem to feel that they deserve privileges other Main Street residents will not have. No other Main Street properties will have parking added in front of them as part of this project. I am afraid that this is headed in a “thin end of the wedge” direction. I would like to see where it is written that the town MUST provide parking for these two properties.

Mark Ford
13 years ago
Reply to  Resident

Whoa. I think it’s time to slow down here and give my former colleague Al a break.

I could be wrong here, (and Al will correct me if I am, no doubt), but as I read the original article, the Selectmen have already made their decision to allow the Town Common to be cut up to accommodate parking–parking which, according to many posters here, will mostly benefit a couple of private businesses which line up on the opposite side of the street.

Many on this board object to that decision. It’s a topic that’s been kicking around town for a year or more, has been on the Selectmen’s radar screen for nearly as long, and I’m sure the Selectmen properly posted the agenda before the meeting where it was discussed and voted upon. So where have you protesters been?

I will confess to having slight reservations to this project–not major, not enough to get me to independently attend the meeting…but if someone who STRONGLY objected to the parking expansion had put the call out to attend, I might have. Well, I didn’t, I missed my chance, and that’s democracy in action.

I am guessing Al went through a similar process, whatever his opinion on the parking itself. He never offered his opinion on the parking expansion–really, unless there’s a recall opportunity I’m not aware of, there’s no gain to doing so–what Al was doing, as I read it, was trying to find a way to give the Memorial more ready access.

And you know what, he’s right. Maybe not about the “Moving the Memorial” part–and I likewise would have never anticipated the strong reaction to that…but what I think is important is that the Memorial literally occupies a traffic island. Kudos for Al for visiting the memorial and reading the names…I went one night after a meeting, admired all the volunteer work (thanks especially to Mr. Phaneuf, whom I saw many late nights working on it), and haven’t returned. Neither have I brought my kids, though you can bet I will now!

It’s kind of a pain to get to, and the patch of road alongside the cemetery towards the Church is a classic architectural border hindering approach. Hey, why don’t we move the cemetery! (just kidding…lol)

So please…get a grip, and recognize Al’s post for what it was–an attempt to bring more honor to Southborough’s Veterans.

Now I believe Al and I can go back to disagreeing with one another on most every issue.

Al Hamilton
13 years ago
Reply to  Resident


I don’t have a dog in the Rt 30 incursion into the commons fight. We elect the Selectmen to mediate between competing interests and they made a decision that was going to make someone unhappy. I respect the fact that they made a decision.

So, if you accept that the parking space plan is a fait accompli then the question I though of was, “What is the impact on the Memorials?” That was the genesis of my first ill conceived post.

If you want to organize opposition to the plan it is probably not too late and you should make your voice heard. In my opinion, the greatest honor we can bestow on those that have preserved our rights and liberties is to make full use of them responsibly.

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